Freedom of religions and worship (2005 – 2010)

2010

 

Ahmadis barred from animal sacrifice on Eid

Kotli AJK; November 2010:    The following story in Azad Kashmir is based on reports in the daily Nawa-e-Waqt, November 16, 2010 and the daily Jammu wa Kashmir, November 16, 2010.

Qari Abdul Waheed Qasmi, the president of the Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat (safeguarding the end of prophethood) said in a press conference that the collective sacrifice of animals would be offered by them on Eid in areas where Qadianis (Ahmadis) are active. As Qadianis deny the end of prophethood and are a non-Muslim minority, they are not allowed to sacrifice animals on Eid-ul-Adha as this is Sha‘ar-e-Islam (an Islamic practice), nor can the meat of their sacrificial animals be distributed among Muslims, for it is haram (forbidden by Shariah) for them. If Qadianis (Ahmadis) sacrifice animals and distribute meat among Muslims, the Tahrik Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat would invoke the law against them on the charge of blaspheming against Sha‘ar-e-Islam.

This shows how the law is maliciously appropriated to deny freedom of religion to Ahmadis. Ahmadis had to act with caution on Eid day and be very discreet while offering their animal sacrifices.

 

Booked under Ordinance XX

Sukkur, Sindh: Mr. Wazir Ali Phul was booked on charge of preaching on 22 February 2010 under PPC 298-B and C. He faces three years’ imprisonment. He is now on bail.

 

 

2009

Arrests as a result of blatant misuse of Anti-Ahmadiyya laws

Sillanwali, Sargodha; March 4, 2009: A police case vides FIR 96/09 was registered on March 4, 2009 against fifteen Ahmadis at Sillanwali police station in District Sargodha, Punjab. The Ahmadis were charged under Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code which is specifically an anti-Ahmadiyya piece of legislation. The accused were charged with having a place of worship, “Which they call a Mosque and use to offer Friday prayers and Eid prayers therein”. Furthermore, they were charged with ‘posing’ as Muslims under the aforementioned Penal Code. Three persons, Mr. Aziz Ahmad, Mr. Muhammad Ashraf and Mr. Khizar Hayat were arrested and police raids were conducted to arrest the remaining persons.

The background to this incident is that an Ahmadi in Sillanwali, Mr. Khan Muhammad owns few shops adjacent to the Ahmadiyya centre, Baitul Zikr. A non-Ahmadi desired to hire these shops; however the owner refused this request for his own reasons. Thereafter the non-Ahmadi met with a local mulla, and they conspired to fabricate a story in order to register a case against the local Ahmadis. The complainant in this case is a cleric, Maulvi Mushtaq.

These discriminatory laws are a tool for religious extremists whose only wish is to deny Ahmadis the right to practice their religion peacefully. The community tried hard to secure the release of the three Ahmadis and have the charges dropped. At first step the local judge refused to accept the plea for bail. On 12th March an appeal for the bail was lodged in the Sessions Court at Sargodha. On 28th March the three detainees were released on bail.

The police called both the parties for interrogation on April 8. Mullas accused the Ahmadis of preaching to Muslims. The officer asked the complainant to point out the guilty party. The complainant pointed towards two Ahmadis. The police officer asked him the names of those two Ahmadis, the complainant had no answer except that he would tell their names later. Mullas presented some Ahmadiyya books to support this claim. They presented a magazine on which it was written, “I shall carry thy message to the corners of the earth”. They derived from it that preaching is an integral part of Ahmadiyyat. They presented a picture of an entrance to an Ahmadi’s house, on which it was written Mashallah. They said, “Look, they (Ahmadis) claim that God is theirs, while they have no right to claim God”. The mullas said that it hurt them when Ahmadis observed prayers, recited the Kalima, offered the Friday prayers and recited the Holy Quran. When they noticed that they had failed to make a prima facia case, they presented a man, Ghulam Abbas, who joined the Ahmadiyya community a year ago, but deserted later. He said that Qadianis had preached to him a year ago.

The police was then quick to register another case basing on a year earlier complaint by Ghulam Abbas and proceeded to arrest four Ahmadis. A case has been registered against them under 298-C with FIR No. 201/09 at P.S. Silanwali on April 28, 2009 over an incident dated May 25, 2008. Six Ahmadis of Silanwali were implicated in this new case. They were accused of preaching. They are Mr. Hafeezullah, Mr. Ismatullah, Mr. Noor Muhammad, Mr. Tariq Ahmad, Mr. Inayatullah and Mr. Ahmad Hayat – the local Ahmadiyya religious teacher. The first four were arrested by the police. Their bail was confirmed on May 4, 2009.

The accused have now to face prosecution in courts for a long time.

 

No freedom of worship for Ahmadis

Kot Muhammad Yar, District Chiniot: Ahmadis were using a room in this village for prayers and Friday congregations. As and when their women joined in the worship, they would hang a curtain for partition. As the space was getting short for the worshippers, Ahmadis decided to build another room in the prayer center.

As the walls of the new room reached waist high, the police arrived. They told Ahmadis to stop the construction and report to the police station in the evening.

When the Ahmadis arrived at the police station they found the mullas already seated there. There, the SHO asked Ahmadis the purpose of their construction. The Ahmadi delegation told him frankly that if Muslims had a right to build a mosque, Christians their church and Sikhs their Gurdawara, Ahmadis also had a right to build a place of worship for themselves. The SHO did not agree, and told them to seek governmental approval for it. He knew that it was not needed, and if they ask for it Ahmadis will not get it.

Later the SHO told Ahmadis that the mulla will not let them build a room for worship. He volunteered to have the construction material removed under his own supervision. He told Ahmadis to stop praying altogether in the room as before. That was the end of even the minimal possibility of worship that existed before.

The vernacular press joined the monkey chorus, as usual.

 

Gross violation of Ahmadis’ freedom of religious practice

The daily Ummat, Karachi of April 20, 2009 published two news items describing the mullas’ demand to close down Ahmadiyya prayer centers in Mirpur Khas, Sindh. Headlines:

Preaching of Qadianiat undertaken openly in Mirpur Khas. Innocent people are invited to homes, dined and then turned into apostates. Religious groups demand immediate action.

It was learnt that some individuals of Mirpur Khas, urged by mullas, submitted an application to the DPO demanding closure of all the prayer centers of Ahmadis in Mirpur Khas. Mullas threatened that if those centers were not closed down unpleasant incidents might happen, and they would themselves undertake the duty of shutting them down. Owners of the two houses which were used as prayer centers were called to the police station in Satellite Town on April 25, 2009, and were compelled to give in writing that no Ahmadi would come to their houses to observe prayer.

Pakistan is signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but the state permits even its low-level officials to violate the basic right of freedom of religion of its Ahmadi citizens.

 

Ahmadi prayer-leader booked

Rabwah; October 23, 2009: In an act of blatant discrimination, the police booked Mr. M. A. Naeem for violation of the Amplifier Act 3. Mr. Naeem had recited the Friday sermon that lasted only 10 minutes. The police, that was accompanied by a local mulla, Ghulam Mustafa, found nothing objectionable in the sermon, but held that the accused’s voice was audible loudly in the street.

The FIR mentions that the police entered the Ahmadiyya place of worship; the accused stopped the sermon and joined the worshippers so he could not be apprehended, and the police took in possession the amplifying equipment. All this is fabrication. In fact, the police did not enter the mosque; Mr. Naeem continued the sermon from the Mimber; and the police did not take the equipment in its charge either.

Although it is possible that the sermon was audible in the adjacent street of the mosque, the police are well aware that Non-Ahmadi clerics use their mosque amplifiers that carry their voices kilometers away. The fact that the police were accompanied by a rabid cleric is ample proof that the police acted on behalf of the mulla. Obviously, the Rabwah police have no instructions yet from their superiors to shun the mulla – on the contrary, perhaps the opposite is still the order of the day.

 

Another Ahmadi charged under PPCs 298-B, C

Rabwah; March 4, 2009: An FIR was registered against Muhammad Nawaz at the City Police Station Chiniot on March 4, 2009 under PPCs 298-B,C. He was accused of preaching to a man named Muhammad Latif. If declared ‘guilty’, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz could be imprisoned for three years.

 

The police violate constitutional provisions on religious freedom

Kot Muhammad Yar, Chiniot: In serious violation of his charter of duties the SHO Police Station Chiniot City, Sheikh Tahir, ordered Ahmadis of Kot Muhammad Yar to stop their Friday worship. In fact his duty is to facilitate worship, not to obstruct it in league with mullas.

The SHO sent for the Ahmadi seniors of the village and told them to give a written undertaking on a Stamp Paper that they would not offer their Friday congregational prayers. He threatened them with a fine of Rs. 500,000 and registration of criminal cases. Ahmadis told him that they will not forego their right to worship and will convey him their intentions after consultation.

Ahmadi leaders advised the local community to ask the SHO to give his orders in writing.

This village is also inhabited by a Pakhtun community who has a Taliban mentality. Their children have been throwing stones at Ahmadis’ homes. Perhaps the conspiracy is to create a law and order situation, and register unwarranted criminal cases against Ahmadis in collusion with the police.

It is relevant to mention that Chiniot is now a district headquarters town. It is located only 5 miles east of Rabwah.

 

 

2008

Freedom of religion violated drastically; two Ahmadis arrested

Rawalpindi; November 8, 2008: The police of R.A. Bazaar, Rawalpindi registered a case under law PPC 298-C that is specific to Ahmadis, on November 8, 2008 against two Ahmadis with FIR 691/2008. They arrested Mr. Abdul Hameed Ghani and Mr. Habib Ahmad. The former is the president of the local Ahmadi community, while the latter teaches Ahmadis matters of religion.

The two Ahmadis were accused of using a house for community worship; this allegedly hurt the sentiments of Muslims. The accusation is mala fide as the building is used for various community functions including worship. This is because no mosque is available to Ahmadis to offer regular prayers; also, it is not true that the practice hurt the sentiments of Muslims. No Muslim came forward to have his complaint registered; the police registered the case on its own initiative. It was their own undertaking. It is noteworthy that in the same week Mr. Zardari the President of Pakistan was at the United Nations to participate in a High-Level meeting where it was declared, inter alia: “The meeting further recalled that all States have pledged themselves under the Charter to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all including freedoms of belief and expression without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.” Mr. Ban Ki-moon rightly advised: “The challenge now is to go beyond the powerful, positive words we have heard these past two days.”

The Government of Pakistan should take note that the authorities have not formally allowed Ahmadis to build a single mosque in Pakistan for years. In June this year the authorities tore down an Ahmadiyya mosque under-construction in Bhabhra Heelan in Kotli, Azad Kashmir. They also registered a police case against the Ahmadis of Kotli city for undertaking repairs and improvements to their place of worship. At Barali, in the same district, the authorities forcibly stopped construction of an Ahmadiyya mosque. These were heinous crimes committed by those bodies which are tasked with enforcing the law. If Ahmadis do not have a proper place of worship, and they are not allowed to build one, they have to pray somewhere – so why not in house owned by them? The Rawalpindi police is not even 20 kilometers away from the capital from where those that govern announce routinely ‘powerful, positive words’ in support of freedom of religion and faith.

The two arrested Ahmadi men, who otherwise are law-abiding citizens, were locked up by the police. Two days later when they applied to the magistrate for release on bail, he rejected their plea. The police, administration and judiciary in the twin city, that is confronted by the problem of terrorism (Marriott Hotel, Lal Masjid etc), are farcical and waste their time and energy in detaining peaceful citizens who pray in their private property.

Ten days later, the Session Court heard the bail applications. The judge decided to release them against surety. They will however face an unnecessary and futile trial, where, if declared guilty (for offering prayers in congregation) they could be sent to prison for three years. Would Quaid-i-Azam recognize the present-day Pakistan as his legacy? The politicians and authorities pay no attention to what the great man told the Assembly on 11th August 1947 in his speech that is on record.

 

A convert is arrested

Dera Ghazi Khan, May 27, 2008: Mr. Rab Nawaz, a new convert to Ahmadiyyat and Mr. Nadeem Ahmad his Ahmadi acquaintance were charged under the Ahmadi-specific law PPC 298-C for preaching on May 27, 2008.

Mr. Nadeem had given a copy of the Holy Quran to Mr. Rab Nawaz. The copy bore his signature. Sanaullah, a brother-in-law of the latter reported the two to the police and presented the Quran as evidence. The police registered the case and arrested Mr. Rab Nawaz.

The FIR No. 345/08 was registered at Police Station Sadr, Dera Ghazi Khan under PPC 298-C on May 27, 2008 against Messrs Rab Nawaz and Nadeem Ahmad. Mr. Rab Nawaz was released on bail a fortnight later.

 

Still another arrest under the Ahmadi-specific law

Chicha Watni: Subedar Mushtaq Ahmad, a 75-years old Ahmadi, retired army JCO was sent for and arrested by the police under PPC 298-C for preaching, in response to a report by mullas. The action was precipitated after the observance of the congregational Friday prayers.

The civil judge rejected the old man’s plea for bail. Mr. Mushtaq is not only very elderly, he is also sick. They admitted him in the hospital.

The police registered the FIR No. 168/08 in Police Station Sadr Chicha Watni, District Sahiwal on May 30, 2008 under section PPC 298-C. The police inspector mentioned in the FIR that at the time of his raid, the accused was addressing and preaching to ‘unknown’ persons at his home. The inspector should have investigated, learnt their names and named them in the FIR in support of his otherwise unsupportable action. Jaisal Khan, Sub Inspector thus further tarnished the reputation of the police.

Mr. Ahmad was released on bail; however he will face prosecution.

 

Ahmadiyya prayer centre vandalized at Multan

Multan: Situation became worrisome in Multan for Ahmadis in August this year. Early this month, an extremist group decided to agitate against Ahmadis to deprive them of their local center in Shah Rukne Alam neighborhood. They started off by pasting objectionable stickers at their prayer centre. On investigation, Ahmadis found out that a neighbor was responsible for this mischief. So an Ahmadi contacted him to make a mild protest, but it resulted in an argument. The neighbor was harsh and threatening. Later, he assembled a gang at the time of the evening prayers and acted hostile against the Ahmadi worshipers. The hooligans threw stones and bricks at the centre, tried to break open the gate and damaged the community vehicle. Ahmadis reported the situation to the police who arrived half an hour too late. On its arrival, the miscreants dispersed only to reassemble elsewhere. Ahmadis arranged for the in-living families to move out from the centre to some safer spot.

Thereafter, a large number of these agitators went to the police station, raised slogans and called bad names to Ahmadis. They demanded that a Blasphemy case be registered against Ahmadis for tearing off the stickers. They put up a formal complaint to that end. The crowd behaved angry and hostile. The police got scared as only three constables were available to them on duty. Later, a larger detachment became available.

Ahmadis learnt that a ‘Pir’ (spiritual guide) had come and settled in that area. He had raised some following, acquired some properties and got some influence and clout. He moved about escorted by armed guards. He was the one who had targeted the Ahmadiyya centre.

The agitators at the police station demanded that:

  1. Ahmadis should close down their center.
  2. The center should be sold out.
  3. A blasphemy case should be registered against Ahmadis for tearing off the stickers.

The police asked three representatives from the two parties each to report to the police station on 11th August.

Ahmadis assessed that the police were acting weak and were shy to impose the writ of the state. This made the situation difficult for Ahmadis. The Pir’s men mounted armed interceptors to check Ahmadi worshipers approaching their centre. They roamed around in patrol vehicles, and pinpointed Ahmadis’ homes. They would come to the Center and bang at the gate. Under these circumstances Ahmadi leadership told the worshippers to stop coming to the Centre for the time being. Friday congregational prayers were also not held. A few guards and care-takers were posted on duty in the Centre to guard against a forced take-over.

The meeting at the police station was attended by the administration officials (Nazim and Deputy Nazim) as well. Ahmadis were told through muffled threats that they were on the hit-list of the banned groups. The police were mild to the aggressors, and did not accept the responsibility to protect the lives of the worshippers. They, however, did post policemen at the Centre.

In the meantime, Ahmadis were made to stop praying at their centre – at least for the time being. It was loss of freedom of worship. It was a serious violation of the fundamental human right: the right to build, maintain and use places of worship.

 

Ahmadiyya prayer centre vandalized at Multan

Multan: Situation became worrisome in Multan for Ahmadis in August this year. Early this month, an extremist group decided to agitate against Ahmadis to deprive them of their local center in Shah Rukne Alam neighborhood. They started off by pasting objectionable stickers at their prayer centre. On investigation, Ahmadis found out that a neighbor was responsible for this mischief. So an Ahmadi contacted him to make a mild protest, but it resulted in an argument. The neighbor was harsh and threatening. Later, he assembled a gang at the time of the evening prayers and acted hostile against the Ahmadi worshipers. The hooligans threw stones and bricks at the centre, tried to break open the gate and damaged the community vehicle. Ahmadis reported the situation to the police who arrived half an hour too late. On its arrival, the miscreants dispersed only to reassemble elsewhere. Ahmadis arranged for the in-living families to move out from the centre to some safer spot.

Thereafter, a large number of these agitators went to the police station, raised slogans and called bad names to Ahmadis. They demanded that a Blasphemy case be registered against Ahmadis for tearing off the stickers. They put up a formal complaint to that end. The crowd behaved angry and hostile. The police got scared as only three constables were available to them on duty. Later, a larger detachment became available.

Ahmadis learnt that a ‘Pir’ (spiritual guide) had come and settled in that area. He had raised some following, acquired some properties and got some influence and clout. He moved about escorted by armed guards. He was the one who had targeted the Ahmadiyya centre.

The agitators at the police station demanded that:

  1. Ahmadis should close down their center.
  2. The center should be sold out.
  3. A blasphemy case should be registered against Ahmadis for tearing off the stickers.

The police asked three representatives from the two parties each to report to the police station on 11th August.

Ahmadis assessed that the police were acting weak and were shy to impose the writ of the state. This made the situation difficult for Ahmadis. The Pir’s men mounted armed interceptors to check Ahmadi worshipers approaching their centre. They roamed around in patrol vehicles, and pinpointed Ahmadis’ homes. They would come to the Center and bang at the gate. Under these circumstances Ahmadi leadership told the worshippers to stop coming to the Centre for the time being. Friday congregational prayers were also not held. A few guards and care-takers were posted on duty in the Centre to guard against a forced take-over.

The meeting at the police station was attended by the administration officials (Nazim and Deputy Nazim) as well. Ahmadis were told through muffled threats that they were on the hit-list of the banned groups. The police were mild to the aggressors, and did not accept the responsibility to protect the lives of the worshippers. They, however, did post policemen at the Centre.

In the meantime, Ahmadis were made to stop praying at their centre – at least for the time being. It was loss of freedom of worship. It was a serious violation of the fundamental human right: the right to build, maintain and use places of worship.

 

Hurdles involved in this State of ‘enlightened moderation’ in peacefully celebrating a centenary

In the last week of May, Ahmadis were celebrating, in an innocent manner, centenary of the Ahmadiyya Khilafat. The mulla took exception to that, and agitated vigorously. The authorities responded favorably to the clerics’ outrages and put pressure on Ahmadi residents of Rabwah and their community officials to restrict severely their personal and community expression of joy and happiness. This situation was unbecoming to a civilized society.

Ahmadiyya Khilafat is the institution of succession in the worldwide Jamaat. It is a spiritual and community institution; it has no political role. The system continues to promote “Love for All, Hatred for None”, tolerance, peace in all spheres of life, universal justice and higher spiritual and moral values (Alfazl May 24, 2008: pp. 3, 4). Ahmadis have benefited greatly from Khilafat and are grateful to God for it. They have a cause to feel happy, and celebrate.

Their celebration was as fair as the cause. They planned to clean sweep their town and homes, share food with the poor, offer thanksgiving prayers, visit the graves of their ancestors, put on new or neat clothes, decorate their homes with paper buntings and light them up with earthen lamps with wick to save on the short supply of electricity. What was there for the mulla to protest against, and for the authorities to take him seriously?

The mulla launched a campaign of slander and threats through the vernacular print media. They issued press releases and statements regarding alleged Ahmadiyya-Jewish fellowship (Qadiani Yahudi gath jor), dire consequences (khatrnak nataej), direct action (rast iqdam), taking law in their own hands (kafan bandh kar khud rokain gai) etc. They commandeered falsehood in bulk for the occasion; it reminds one of 1953 when during the anti-Ahmadiyya agitation they circulated pamphlets that 1000 men had been killed at Jhang and Sargodha by the security forces in one day; while the prestigious high level judicial inquiry subsequently found and mentioned it in its worthy Report that ‘not a single bullet had been fired on that date in either of these places’ ( p. 156 of The Report, Punjab Disturbances of 1953).

In crafty but essentially futile reaction to imagined Ahmadiyya incentive, the mulla  held 80 jalsas according to his own count, held a big convention at Alhamra, a state facility in Lahore,  where “the prime minister and the four chief ministers would participate” (sic), issued a series of articles in vernacular press wherein the 20th century state-sponsored killings of numerous Ahmadis in Afghanistan was eulogized.  Slanderous accusations were made and published against Ahmadis, and highly provocative threats were made. The aim was to create an artificial threat to peace of the society and to provide an excuse to the authorities to trample upon fundamental rights of Ahmadi citizens of Rabwah. The authorities predictably responded as the mulla wanted. It is amazing that the officialdom that looks the other way when a big mosque in the centre of the nation’s capital is converted into a veritable arms depot, becomes active to deny Ahmadis’ decoration of their town with colored paper buntings.

Who were these mullas? Most of them were from the notorious Majlis Ahrar or their sympathizers in the Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat. Some of them are from the banned organizations that indulge in terrorism. Political support comes from influentials who either have an Ahrari past or those who find it politically advantageous to cohabit with mulla. The administration looks towards Lahore for the wink. This type of drama was played earlier as well, when in 1989 the District Magistrate Jhang forbade Ahmadis celebration of their community’s Centenary and denied them even “distribution of sweets and service of food”. That shameless ‘Order’ brought great embarrassment to the country in international circles. The duet of irresponsible mulla and official charged the entire Ahmadiyya population of Rabwah in an FIR dated December 15, 1989. It has remained open ever since. Rabwah is the only town in Pakistan where all jalsas, rallies, even organized sports have remained banned for Ahmadis for the last 25 years. The mulla, however, has  blank cheque to do what he likes in Rabwah – and he cashes this cheque often, even regularly. In January 2007, the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group mission looked into the Rabwah situation by on-the-spot visit, published its report, and titled it: RABWAH: A PLACE FOR MARTYRS?

The DPO visited Rabwah on May 25. He met no Ahmadi community official. The police  arrested an Ahmadi for selling Ahmadiyya badges etc. They also put pressure on Ahmadi elders to see to it that no Ahmadi displays in public any joy and cheer about Khilafat. How can any community official do that? Joy is in the heart and shows itself on the face of the carrier who takes it along in the air around him wherever he goes. No mulla, administration or police can deprive a man of his happiness with his instant situation. The state that insists on depriving a section of its own people of fundamental rights shoots itself in the foot. Martin Niemoller summed it up well in a statement:

“In Germany, the Nazis came for the Communists and I didn’t speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionist and I didn’t speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant so I didn’t speak up. Then they came for me…. By that time there was no one to speak up for any one.”

(Congressional Record 14 Oct. 1968)

Eventually the will of the mulla prevailed – partially. All parties agreed that no jubilations be undertaken on 27th May, the date of the Centenary. A heavy police contingent was deployed in the town on high alert and the press reported total inactivity (hoo ka alam) on account of the shutter-down in the bazaar. The gloating mulla declared to the print media, “The country has been saved by the ban on the Qadiani centenary”, the daily Jang; May 28. According to a press report, mulla Allah Yar Arshad told Ahmadis “to restrict themselves to their homes and places of worship so as to avoid religious provocation.” The mulla did not realize that Ahmadis, being practical and rational people, could postpone their celebrations for one day (even though it is like the state forcing Christians to celebrate their Christmas on Dec 26). So, to every body’s great surprise the citizens of Rabwah celebrated their Centenary on 28th May. By the time the mulla realized what was going on, it was too late. He fumed, protested and ran around, but by the time he got some audience, the day was over. In frustration and failure he demanded of the authorities to put a stop to all that on the following day. The authorities told Ahmadis to light no earthen lamps thereafter, and Ahmadis said, ‘OK’. The mulla’s flurry reminds one of the adage: Much ado about nothing.

The mulla demanded action against the local DSP. He wanted an inquiry into the entire episode and action against all the officials responsible. A number of these clerics of Chiniot Tehsil met the DPO Jhang “who assured the Ulama that an inquiry was underway against some irregularities” The daily Ausaf; May 31, 2008. The DPO also met the Nazir Umur Aamma, an Ahmadi community official.

On June 8, 2008 the administration committed the enormity of booking the entire population of Rabwah under Ahmadi-specific PPC 298-C and other laws. They arrested one Ahmadi. The FIR no. 254/08 was registered at Police Station, Chenab Nagar.

 

Freedom of religion, assembly and speech to Ahmadis!

Rabwah: In October 2008 the Nazir Amur Aama (Director Public Affairs) of the Ahmadiyya central office wrote a letter to the authorities concerned on the issue of the permission granted to the Anti-Ahmadiyya Khatme Nabuwwat mullas to hold another open-air conference at Rabwah and the denial of the same permission to Ahmadis in their own town. This self-explanatory letter, written in Urdu, is translated below:

Sir,

According to the press reports a Khatme Nabuwwat Conference is scheduled at Rabwah by the Aalami Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat on October 30 and 31, 2008. As usual, the speakers will make anti-Ahmadiyya provocative speeches and issue statements there. Rabwah is a unique town in that the Government of the Punjab renamed it Nawan Qadian against the wishes of the local population, only to please a few outsiders. After the Notification, the government was conveyed the concern that the revised imposed name of ‘Nawan Qadian’ would perhaps be acceptable to the residents; thus the object of hurting their sentiments would not be adequately achieved. So they issued a fresh official notification that further changed the name of the town to Chenab Nagar. In fact there are numerous such hurtful impositions on Ahmadis here. I propose now to highlight only one of these.

For the last quarter of a century, residents of this town have been deprived of their fundamental right of assembly. Ahmadis established this town on a barren piece of purchased land. At present more than 50,000 Ahmadis live here. Earlier, Ahmadis would assemble here five times every year and participate in moral and spiritual improvement seminars and programs. The government apparently did not approve of this peaceful pursuit, so it decided to forbid them this basic human right through executive orders. Now, every year Ahmadis request to hold their annual conference, and the authorities fail to even acknowledge the receipt of the letter. Please consider the discrimination practiced in case of others.

A few others, non-Ahmadis, who have been planted in Rabwah, enjoy complete freedom to hold conferences here and invite the speakers from outside. They undertake slander and provocation against the most respected elders of Ahmadis who form 95% of the town’s population. The organizers and speakers at these conferences violate official rules and directions, and are not held accountable for them. The participants then form processions, provoke the local population and precipitate a threat to law and order. Consequently the government tells Ahmadis to remain at home, but does not order the provocateurs to disperse.

These are the facts. The police reports and agencies’ records support all this. In view of such unfair treatment one must wonder what has happened to the basic right of assembly and why it is denied to Ahmadis. Also:

  • If this basic human right is allowed by the Constitution of Pakistan, why is it denied in this town?
  • Is this not blatant discrimination based on faith?

In the light of these questions, would it not be fair to permit Ahmadis to hold their peaceful assemblies in Rabwah, and forbid those conferences that promote only hatred and intolerance, especially when the government claims to be liberal, enlightened and democratic?

Yours sincerely,

Saleemuddin

Nazir Umur Aama, Chenab Nagar (Rabwah)

 

2007

Two Ahmadis arrested under Ahmadi-specific law

Karachi, June 2, 2007: The police booked two Ahmadis, Messrs Shahid Mahmud Ansari and Amir Ahmad Ansari of Gulshan Sir Syed under PPC 298-C and 506-B, and arrested them. They were lodged in Landhi Jail.

The case was registered at Police Station Sarjani Town. Addition of PPC 506-B (threat to cause death or grievous hurt) to the Ahmadi-specific clause PPC 298-C is obviously a fabrication and malafide. If declared guilty, the two accused could be imprisoned for seven years.

They applied for bail, but the Judicial Magistrate rejected their plea. The plea was then made before the District and Session Judge at Karachi who granted their release on bail on July 23. However, the bail was approved over a sum of Rs. 100,000 each which was rather large for their means. The community then arranged the bonds for the bails, and the victims came out of the prison.

 

 

2006

Booked and arrested under Ahmadi-specific law

Rabwah; January 8, 2006: The police registered a case under PPC 298C and 16 MPO against Mr. Muhammad Latif Butt son of Mr. Imam Din, and arrested him. The FIR no. 21/06 was registered at Police Station Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) on the orders of no other than the District Police Officer himself, accusing Mr. Butt of preaching.

The FIR mentions that Mr. Butt is 65, married, and has three sons and five daughters. It also conveys that he was an ardent activist of Jamaat Islami and Ahle Hadith denomination up to 1973, but became an Ahmadi in 1974 (the year of extensive anti-Ahmadi riots). He is now the prayer leader in Rahman Colony mosque and is a Secretary of (local) Jamaat Ahmadiyya. He sends written literature by post and E-mail to the respected Ulama (Ulama Karam) wherein he states that according to Islamic theology, it is not correct that Prophet Isa was lifted physically to the sky; the Quran as well as common sense tell us that all those who are born, die and depart, so Ahmadiyya doctrine (of Prophet Isa’s death) is the truth, while Muslims of all the 57 countries are in error, etc.

It is noteworthy that the complainant in this case is not one of the ‘respected ulema’; it is the District Police Officer Jhang of this country that claims to be the standard bearer of ‘enlightened moderation’.

 

Arrests and registration of criminal case under Ahmadi-specific law

Mirpur Khas, Sindh; June 23, 2006: At the instigation of two mullahs, one Muhammad Ali son of Sharo reported to the police and had a criminal case registered under PPC 298C, 341 and 34 against five Ahmadis for preaching. Two of the accused, namely Maula Bakhsh and Muhammad Akbar who were fresh converts were arrested by the police. The other three went into hiding and applied for bail before arrest.

Later, when the plea for bail of the five accused was presented in the court, the two detainees told the court that they had recanted. The magistrate, however, did not release them on bail and sent them to a prison. Thereafter, the other three accused applied for bail in the higher Sessions Court, where the plea was provisionally granted. The FIR was registered as No. 62/2006 at police station Satellite Town, Mirpur under Sections PPC 298C, 341, 34 on June 23, 2006. If declared guilty, the accused are liable to 3 years’ imprisonment under this Ahmadi-specific law that denies religious freedom only to Ahmadis.

 

Four Ahmadis booked under Ahmadi-specific law

Mianwali Bangla, District Sialkot; July 14, 2006: The police registered a criminal case against four Ahmadis under PPC 298C on charge of preaching. The four accused are Professor Iftikar Ahmad, the president of the local Ahmadi community, Mr. Naeem Akram Bajwa, the community teacher, Mr. Shehzad Ahmad and Mr. Asghar Ali.

Among the Ahmadi accused, Mr. Asghar Ali is a convert. His exercise of freedom to choose his belief was not taken kindly by the opponents. The accuser had it recorded that Ahmadis invited him to their home, entertained him with tea etc and offered him a visit to Rabwah. It is also relevant that this is the same district where the police cooperated with the rioters on June 24 to destroy Ahmadiyya homes, mosque and businesses.

The police registered the case vide FIR No. 174/2006 u/s PPC 298C at Police Station Satrah, District Sialkot on July 14, 2006, against the four Ahmadis. If declared guilty, they could be imprisoned for three years.

 

Conclusion of a case registered under the Anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance

Gujranwala. Ten years ago Messrs Ijaz Ahmad and Naseer Ahmad were charged under Ahmadi-specific law PPC 298C for preaching. Mr. Ijaz Ahmad was acquitted of the charge on July 29, 2006 by magistrate Jahangir Ashraf. A brief resume of the case would be in order and of interest to whoso is concerned with human rights of Ahmadis in Pakistan.

The complainant told the police in April 1996 that two Ahmadis had preached him Ahmadiyyat while traveling on a bus to Gujranwala and then on a railway platform while waiting for the train to Sialkot. The accused availed of bail, and the prosecution went on for next ten years. The co-accused Naseer Ahmad, hurt and very tired of years of court appearances, eventually stopped presenting himself and was proclaimed as offender. Mr. Ijaz Ahmad continued to suffer the prosecution. Eventually the magistrate found and observed in the judgment that:

  1. Most of the prosecution witnesses were workers of the Majlis Khatme Nabuwwat. One of them said that it was his duty to prosecute Qadianis in whole of the country.
  2. The witnesses made contradictory statements and improved upon their evidence at various stages.
  3. The witness p.w.3 could not tell what exactly he was preached.
  4. The complainants’ story is doubtful in view of the evidence. It is now different than that reported in the FIR.
  5. The case was facilitated and pushed by the workers of the anti-Ahmadi org. Some of these are interested witnesses, and p.w.4 is a chance witness whose presence at the spot is not established.
  6. The Investigating Officer’s inquiry was casual and loose.

So the magistrate acquitted the Ahmadi from the charge.

To sum up: a frivolous and fabricated case under Ahmadi-specific law took its time and toll. One of the accused had to flee and suffer dislocation to some foreign country. The Investigating Officer died during the long duration of the trial. Mr. Ijaz Ahmad, although acquitted eventually, suffered the following during the ten years:

  1. Prosecution in court
  2. Restrictions, as a result of the bail
  3. Frequent court appearances during 10 years
  4. Costs of the law suit
  5. Frequent absence from his job, for travel from Sialkot to the court at Gujranwala
  6. His job remained at risk
  7. Stress and tension due to risk of 3 years’ imprisonment

This is the kind of toll that such criminal complaints take in these religious cases. And there was always the risk of ending up in prison for years.

 

2005

A youth is charged under Ahmadi-specific law and other religious laws

Kakki Nau, District Jhang; March 31, 2005: A young man, Abdur Razzaq son of Naseeruddin Rajput decided in February to join the Ahmadiyya Community. Due to lack of experience, he did not fully understand the implications of his decision and his vulnerability under the laws of the land. He contacted the local mullah and boldly advised him to study the ‘Real Islam’. The mullah got angry, started making noise and assembled a crowd. Abdur Razzaq was beaten up by the miscreants who delivered him to the police that charged him under PPC Sections 295/A, 295 and 298C, and sent him to jail. The young man was exposed to a maximum of ten years’ imprisonment. His plea for bail was rejected by the Civil Judge and then by the Sessions Judge. He could get some relief only at the High Court.

 

A convert faces the consequences

Chak 172 TDA, District Leyya:           In March, 2005, Mr Muhammad Imran son of Mr Muhammad Siddique joined the Ahmadiyya Community. His family came to know about his conversion and visit to Rabwah. They tried to make him recant, but in view of his reluctance, beat him up severely. He was handed over to the police subsequently. They detained him for a few days and urged him to tell them the names of Ahmadis who were instrumental in persuading him to switch over. Eventually, his own relatives secured his release. His father formally disinherited him from share in his agricultural land. His parents took away his national identity card and driving license to put more pressure on him. His four brothers have also turned against him.

*A case under Ahmadi-specific law PPC 298C was registered against Mr. Mubarak Ahmad son of Mr. Abdur Rahim of Mirpur Sindh, vide FIR 24/05 dated March 10, 2005 at Police Station Shadi Puli of District Umer Kot. Mr. Ahmad is facing prosecution and is exposed to three years’ imprisonment.

*Rana Muhammad Akbar of Multan was also charged under Ahmadi-specific law. A case was registered against him at Police Station Seetle Mari vide FIR 94/05 dated August 14, 2005. Mr. Akbar fled the country to avoid years of prosecution and imprisonment.

 

Restrictions on freedom of worship

Anti-Ahmadiyya ordinance issued by General Zia in 1984 specifically targeted inter-alia Ahmadiyya places of worship, and specified the nature of injunctions against them.  However, permissive and supportive attitude of all governments encouraged the mullah to enlarge the scope of his transgression against Ahmadiyya mosques far beyond the call of the notorious Ordinance.  As a result, scores of Ahmadiyya mosques have been violated and the state has done little to discourage this onslaught by the mullah.  There has been a visible upsurge in this in recent months.  A few of these instances are mentioned below briefly to show the nature of denial of and obstruction to this basic human right:

  • Mullah Muhammad Ishaque of Bahawalpur went all the way to village Chak-192 Murad on June 17th 2005.  There, he maliciously interfered with the affairs of the Ahmadiyya mosque and precipitated an undesirable situation.  Later, he had a case registered at the police station against fifteen Ahmadis under various sections including the dreaded blasphemy clause PPC 295C.  As a result thirteen Ahmadis were arrested.
  • Ahmadis undertook this year to make a makeshift structure at the Truck Market in Chiniot to offer their daily prayers.  Mullahs came to know about it and raised a howl.  The police obligingly forbade Ahmadis to erect the facility.
  • Ahmadiyya mosque at Manga, District Sialkot, is almost a century old.  Ahmadis undertook its renovation.  Riaz, a local, had a personal vendetta against an Ahmadi, so he approached the local police SHO and stated that Ahmadis had built a niche in their mosque.  In fact the niche was already there and had been plastered a year ago.  The Zia ordinance does not forbid Ahmadis to have a niche in their mosques; 99.5% have niches.  Riaz, the complainant, hopes to get a favorable decision from the High Court in his personal case, through the via media of a fabricated and baseless communal dispute.
  • Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pindi Bhatian, District Hafizabad, had acquired approval from the authorities to construct a building on a site that was acquired twenty years ago for construction of a place of worship.  Its construction was well underway for the last one month, when the mullah approached the police.  The police ordered a stop to the construction work on June 18, 2005.  The local police say that they acted at the orders of their superiors, the DSP and the SP.
  • Mullah Shafique Dogar (local president of the banned Sipah Sahaba) led a gang of miscreants and trespassed the Ahmadiyya mosque at Khiva Bajwa, District Sialkot.  He acted in league with Mr. Riaz Dar the SHO at Pasrur and the DSP Pasrur.  One would have thought that the extremist mullah of the banned organization would be on the run from the police, but here they were pulling together.  The mullah’s men damaged some items of the mosque property and effaced the title of the mosque.  Subsequently they approached the court, where the judge found it convenient to order the police to seal the Ahmadiyya mosque.  They complied with the order on June 2, 2005.  Now the case is open in the court, while Ahmadis have no place to worship.  This case shows how the authorities deal on the ground with the banned organizations, and with Ahmadiyya Community – officially a minority group.
  • Mr. Abdul Razzak, a convert to Ahmadiyyat at Goth Motan Chandio, District Badin, was visited in June 2005 by some mullahs leading a large agitated crowd.  The mullah sent for Mr. Razzak and demanded as to why he had become an Ahmadi, and why a mosque had been built.  One of the mullahs offered the fatwa that it was a pious act to kill an Ahmadi.  The mullahs gave him a grace period of five days to recant, or face consequences.  One week later the Army major at Badin sent for Mr. Razzak and interrogated him in detail. He was let go after obtaining a copy of his ID card and his photo.  Amazing that the state should be chasing Ahmadis rather than religious extremists even after 9/11 and 7/7.
  • Ahmadiyya mosque at Moro, District Nowshero Feroz (Sindh) had become dilapidated, so it was pulled down for reconstruction and renovation.  Ahmadi-bashers became active, approached the police and had the construction work stopped.  Eventually in March 2005 the DCO arranged a compromise and the construction restarted.  Ahmadis decided to first construct the boundary wall but the opposition again approached the police, and had the work stopped.  The DSP gave the verdict that Ahmadis cannot build the boundary wall, however for security they are allowed to build the wall with iron sheets.

If so built it will be the first such boundary wall in Asia.  One is reminded at this of the words of our worthy Prime Minister in the Daily Awaz, Lahore on Jan 24, 2005:  Minorities in Pakistan enjoy equal rights – Shaukat Aziz, the Prime Minister

 

Prosecution continues

Chiniot: A large number of Ahmadis from Rabwah continue to suffer prosecution at Chiniot on faith-related charges. Prosecution is led by the state. For example, on February 8, 2005, twenty-six anti-Ahmadi criminal cases were due for hearing in the court of Mr. Ahsan, the magistrate at Chiniot. As the magistrate was on leave, 17 March 2005 was given as the fresh date of hearing. All these cases deserve to be dumped by the state if it truly believes in enlightened moderation.

At present 187 Ahmadis are facing prosecution at Chiniot.

 

Other mentions in dispatches

The mullah makes a living out of the Ahmadiyya issue. He remains active in the capital as well as the provinces. Here are sample reports from such locations:

Islamabad: On October 21, 2005, the mullah at the mosque ‘Masjid Mubeen’ located in Aabpara, G 6-1/1 told his flock to stay back after the morning prayers. He took the opportunity to harangue them against Ahmadis. He also told them that Ahmadis had established camps at Bagh, Batgram and Balakot etc to provide relief to earthquake victims, but were busy in misguiding people and converting them. Then he appealed for funds and collected some. He promised them that he would send teams to go to these locations and apprehend the Qadianis.

Dhirke Kalan, District Gujrat: The resident cleric at the Jame Masjid has produced leaflets containing anti-Ahmadiyya fatwas (edicts) and distributed them in numbers. The edicts enjoin the following, inter alia:

  • Any one who claims to be a prophet is a liar, infidel, apostate and Dajjal, and must be put to death.
  • Qadianis are apostates, hypocrites ……… . Anyone who thinks that Qadianis are victimized, and has social relations with them, is himself an infidel.
  • We must take account of ourselves and ensure that we do not befriend Qadianis, not invite them, nor attend their social functions nor let them bury their dead in our graveyard ..… . For heaven’s sake think, and deliberate.

King Chenin, District Mandi Bahauddin: On October 1, 2005, one Amjad Shakoor son of Mr Bashir Ahmad of Asadullah Pur, a government employee at the Health Centre, Gakhra arrived at about 0900 at the Government High School, King Chenin and asked the teachers to send their students to him in the afternoon to Jamia Masjid Ashrafia for instructions on the congregational prayers. The unsuspecting children went to him dutifully with paper and pencil. However, Shakoor told them little about the prayers, but lectured them at length against the Ahmadiyya community. He told the children that anyone who murders a Qadiani, goes straight to paradise. As a result, the next day 3 children beat up an Ahmadi child – son of Mr Basharat Ahmad. When asked, they said that they will do that again as that was the right thing to do.

This incident was brought to the notice of the District Police Officer, in a written complaint.

Lahore: The president of Ahmadi community of Sultanpura, Lahore reported that provocative and slanderous anti-Ahmadiyya posters were pasted by miscreants on Ahmadiyya mosque and houses. Such literature was also thrown in Ahmadi homes. The poster displayed a fatwa (edict) by a powerful cleric of the 14th Century Hijra, Maulwi Ahmad Raza Khan Brelvi; it declared that Ahmadis are apostates and hypocrites and any Muslim who sympathizes with them is himself outside the pale of Islam. The poster’s contents are highly derogatory. It is unnecessary to repeat them here.

Islamabad: Mr. Sethi, an Ahmadi of Sector G6, Islamabad reported in June that he faces active opposition from the Mullahs.  They mention him by name in their sermons and tell their followers not to do any business with him.  They placed anti-Ahmadi stickers on cars, including his.  Some of these read as follows:

  • Boycott Qadianis, if you love the Prophet.
  • Those who claim to love the Prophet, are enemies of Mirzais.
  • Anyone who is friendly to a Mirzai is a traitor to Islam.    (translation)

Goth Motan Chandio (Sindh): November 14, 2005:   There is a sizable Ahmadiyya Community in this village. The mullahs of the Khatme Nabuwwat organization decided to provoke them from the neighboring village, and held an open-air rally over there. They made fiery speeches in the rally and uttered foul and provocative remarks. Ahmadis, however, kept their calm and did not react. The mullahs also put up slanderous posters here and there. This disturbed the peace of the area for a few days. District Badin has often been targeted by mullahs in the past, and Ahmadis have suffered at the hand of mullahs and authorities.

 

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